"They were one of the best teams in the country coming in here. When they shoot the ball like that, on top of how they have been playing, they are the best team in the country and have a great chance to win the national championship. They are the best team we have played all year long. I don't know if anybody in the country could have beaten Xavier today."
Other than them shooting lights out, what other improvements did you see in Xavier since you played them earlier in the season?
"Earlier in the season they were trying to find their identity, their chemistry, trying to work in new players. Doellman was a young player who wasn't very effective for them at that point. Now, he is a key for them because he is that 5th cog in their offense. But, at the same time, he makes it go because he shoots well and stretches people out. Myles is playing better. And, if you remember, Sato, early in the season, was in a slump. Chalmers and Finn had a good game against us at our place, but nothing like this. When those three playes from that perimeter go 11 of 14 and the team goes 13 of 19, it is very difficult to keep coming back. We tried throwing everything at them. We tried to zone them to take away the ball screens. They were 4 for 4 against the zone. We tried to trap them but they are very skilled and hard to trap because they have those four perimeter guys. They made huge shots all day long. They were 13 of 19. You aren't going to beat many teams when they shoot like that."
I know a box and one is a gimmicky defense, but do you think that might have been effective against Chalmers?
"How about a box and three? How about Sato and Finn? Finn was 5 for 7 from the three-point line. Sato was 2 for 3. No gimmick defense works against a skilled team that can shoot, absoulutely not. If there were some guys who couldn't shoot, then maybe you could do that."
What did they do today to keep Roberts from being a factor?
"They did a good job of sagging in on him in their zone. Anytime a team zones, you have to make some perimeter shots. In the second half, we took some open shots but didn't make many. We also probably weren't as patient as we should have been in trying to get inside to him. But, sometimes, it's easier said than done."
What did you tell your guys at halftime after they made that halfcourt shot for a three?
"We were only down by one at halftime. We didn't let it faze us. There were 20 more minutes to go. We kept it close early in the second half. Then, they went on that run and made huge three-point shots."
Do you think your team took too many perimeter shots?
"When they don't go in, you do. When they do go in, you don't. That's how it works sometimes. When they go in they are good shots. When they don't, then they aren't good shots."
How much did the tape on Timmy Bowers' hand affect his shooting?
"Timmy's a warrior. But, naturally, when you have tape on your hand and fingers it is going to affect you."
What do you tell your players after a loss like this?
"Right now, it seems dark, but tomorrow the sun will come up. Soon, they will reflect on how special this season really was. They are 26 and 4 and did something that a Mississippi State team hasn't done in over 40 years and that is win the SEC Championship. They were 14-2 in the SEC. 8-0 on the road in the SEC. So, there are a lot of things these young men can be very proud of."
The last three years in the NCAA Tournament you have faced a hot Texas team, Butler, a team that was better than expected and now Xavier, one of the hottest teams in the nation. Do you think the draws just don't seem to go your way?
"No, I don't look at it that way. When you get down to the final 32, all of these teams are good."
When you got that 10-point lead in the first half, did you feel like you had them on their heels?
"I don't feel we had them on their heels. We knew it was going to be a long game because Xaveier has great explosive offense. They can come down and knock down the threes and they are also very good off the dribble. We could't contain them. We tried a little bit of everything. When you man them, Chalmers killed us on the ball screens. It was like choosing your poison. They were 13 of 19 from three-point range. That is almost unheard of. "
Now that the season is over with, what can you say about the possibility of Roberts declaring for the NBA Draft?
"I really have no comment on it other than to say that he will make the decision that is best for he and his family. I won't have any input in the decision."
Are you optimistic that he will be back?
"We haven't even talked about it."
What do you see for this team next year?
"I hope all of my parts are back next year. Last year I thought I had a lot of parts back, Mario Austin, a couple or recruits. So, I'm almost hesitate to say what parts I will have coming back because of the way basketball is nowadays. It's obvious we lose a couple of good players, but we have some good players coming back."
Talk about how well Finn played against you today.
"Both times he has played against us he has played well. I don't know why he wants to play so well against us."
You recruited Finn, didn't you?
"9-11 kept us from getting Finn. He was going to visit us, but 9-11 happened when he was going to visit. And that was the only weekend he had available because he was a football player. After that, we never could get him in. And Xavier had been recruiting him, so he signed with Xavier. He is a tough kid who makes shots. That was the reason we recruited him."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.